Kirlian Camera’s latest album Hologram Moon was released on 26 January on Dependent Records. We took the opportunity to ask the band a few questions regarding their past, present and future. Kirlian Camera is the band of the outstanding reputation and legacy; their music expression exceeds the interest of gothic music fans. However, most of their performances are visited by those of the “darker” sensibility and taste.
1. Ever since you started the project, Kirlian Camera felt enigmatic, mysterious, different: starting with the name itself. I feel the main inspiration hasn’t changed during the years, but took different shapes and evolved artistically. Can you elaborate further on the notion?
Angelo Bergamini: The idea of photographing people’s vital aura was intriguing for me at the time. Then, came a wave of skepticism about that camera conceived by Semyon Kirlian … Nowadays, after so many years, the concept of “aura” is regaining the interest of people, now that many physicists, researchers, astrophysicists and various scientists, like for instance Robert Lanza, are stating that our existence has practically no end. So, I’m not talking about religion, but modern science. I already had the same idea, years ago, since I was only seven. A question of perceptions, whether they are illusory or not. Let’s say I think many of us are “existing” and many others are not … then, from that point, we can start thinking about possible eternal life (I can not think that an illusion has any life and some of us are just illusions, imaginary creatures, it’s difficult to explain this through a few lines…). This group was born on the basis of a perception regarding eternal life and … on a feeling of dramatic alienation from the bigger part of humanity.
2. The first few albums were in fact not full length albums. What was the reason for that?
Angelo Bergamini: You’re right, as the press, at the time, said that “It doesn’t matter, now” was an EP, even if it was just a full-length, instead. Anyway, the real album came out 8 years later. The reason is simple, even though it’s quite strange: I was in fact supposed to be able to create singles and furthermore. At the time none of my label managers gave a damn about having anything that “art-like” such as an album, so… I kept on delivering singles on singles, by using several names and labels. Some singles sold remarkably fine, but I got some huge sense of frustration, as my dream was making a real album, at the time, one for KC, at last! The first time I realized I made a full-length work was when “Invisible Front. 2005” came out. But, the real no-filler chapter came… this year, with “Hologram Moon” as whether one likes it or not, and whatever the reason, it shows no waste of time!
3. The song titles and lyrics are in many cases enigmatic. The listener really needs to understand the album and the project concept to be able to fully understand your language? Where did you find the inspiration for the lyrical content?
Angelo Bergamini: The very enigmatic saga began when that child joined the band, ahahah!!! Joking aside, Elena is a notably “different” person, so she lives in strange “dreams” (although this word doesn’t get any real meaning, in this case). Even weirder fact, I made some shocking experiences throughout the last years, and they aren’t that easy to be categorized as “dreams”. Elena and I are continuously living on something like a razor blade. I think we shouldn’t allow ourselves to do that, but fear is not enough. Couldn’t explain such a very huge harvest of events now, but you will easily realize that writing lyrics is just one little part of all the events we are experiencing. It wouldn’t be possible to write ordinary lyrics, or better saying… sometimes we try living this exact dimension, but “those alien dreams” seem to invade our daily life. Acting “normal” isn’t of any trouble to us (we’re good actors!), but we couldn’t ignore our identity. Many state there’s a clear esoteric ingredient in our songs… It’s true and it’s not. I don’t think it’s exact esoterica, though. Anyway, our life is strictly connected with particular sensations and emotions, so we couldn’t avoid adding some messages into our music, and sometimes they may sound hermetical. It’s natural, it’s our life.
4. You don’t stick only to English language. How do you decide which language would suit a song?
Angelo Bergamini: I think Elena is naturally quite at home with the English language, as far as singing is concerned, maybe due to her source. But, I ‘ve been blown away first time when I listened to the Italian version of SKY COLLAPSE, titled LA CADUTA DEL CIELO… Oh well, it’s just an incredible performance, and really I would like her to keep on writing and singing something like that!!! Anyway, a word is music, so I think she selects words on basis of the “sound” of them, today more than ever. So, she happens to sing in English of course, but also in German, Italian, even Spanish, every time going to decide what language a song should lean on. As for my taste, I lately prefer mixing languages. I know some people find it wrong, but I like it, because it lets you use certain words which perfectly fit to the melody and music. To atmosphere.
Elena Alice Fossi: Covering songs is often funny, and sometimes one even feels some actual need to do that. We aren’t used to following any particular pattern, or better… the idea must come out suddenly, like a bolt from the blue. Question of pure feeling, as a sensation that takes shape from the heart and enthusiasm! Usually, we look for pop songs to be quite massively re-read, as we like the idea of having a melodic structure behind the sounds we are going to “dedicate” to our version. Anyway, strange enough, on the opposite, we don’t feel any disdain for complicated choices. For example, we started working on a partiture written by a composer we love so much, and such a decision requires long times. We can range from melodic songs, to classic and avantgarde without any hesitation in excess.
6. How did Angelo and Elena find each other?
Elena Alice Fossi: Making a long story short, I’ll say that at the time Angelo was looking for a new singer, as the current one had to give up with music in order to focus on other stories. Thus, a common friend suggested my name to Angelo, without my knowing. My reaction was nothing special, just… total panic! Kirlian Camera was my favourite group, and Angelo had recently been named producer of the month on Music Research, so “that must be a joke”, I thought … but it was not! It ended up that instead of cancelling the audition, as I would have liked to do, I accepted and jumped on the train to meet the band. I arrived sweating and shaking at the station, but Angelo immediately put me at ease and so, after a couple hours, he asked me if I wanted to sing on a version of “Eclipse”. I knew that song by heart, so sang it. Angelo, after two minutes suddenly turned off the ADAT recorder on which he was recording my voice, while a psycho-cloud started flashing into my head “It’s over, I’m toast!”, But he looked at me saying “Now you are the Kirlian singer and I’d like you immediately start recording your vocals on the new album”. I did not believe my ears!!! It must be said that it was not possible to immediately enter the band, because given my age, my parents did not look favourably at the thing … so, we waited a while, continuing to keep in touch, until I left home, I even quit my job and moved to Northern Italy. Knowing Angelo and entering KC turned out to be the choice of my musical life!!!
Angelo Bergamini: Elena looked so shy but actually kind and of elegant manners! On the other hand, she perfectly was the opposite of a snob girl, having nothing to do with anything “artificial”. Her voice immediately impressed me a lot. I was so happy that the two main ingredients – voice and inner beauty – were allowed to be caught in a unique person. Then, it’s even banal, Elena looked really beautiful, even when so simply dressed: her beauty is so particular, personal, original, even though can be taken as… beauty, exactly! At the times, Elena had been studying singing, being personally trained by Oscar winner composer Ennio Morricone’s favorite singer/collaborator Susanna Rigacci, and even started teaching singing technique in two quite prestigious Tuscany music schools, so, in spite of the fact she was so young, she knew many interesting ideas, although she was so reluctant to suggest any, perhaps she wanted to respect at all costs the fact she was a newcomer. At the times she couldn’t even imagine she would have written the biggest part of Hologram Moon, and many other albums, singles and so on and so forth, ah ah ah!!!
7. Since Elena joined KC, Angelo, you found your perfect partner for the project. How do you two divide composing, production, live shows and other work related to the band?
Angelo Bergamini: There is neither plan nor program. Strange, in these badly controlled computer days, right? She’s myself and I’m her, I couldn’t explain what’s happening when we meet, as calling it perfect interface would be simplistic. We descend from the same breed of “travellers”, as far as we know. We eat the same batteries and share the same love for that immensity created by a crazy astronaut….
8. During the career, Kirlian Camera changed the line ups as well as the record labels. The last album Hologram Moon was released on Dependent Records. How pleased were you in general with your previous relationships with labels?
Angelo Bergamini: Oh yes, Elena and I had a lot of different collaborators, throughout the years and before she joined the band Kirlian Camera was a kind of solo project, you know, it’s an unavoidable fact, that we often like to change our musical orientation, so our musicians change in order to fulfil our most recent need. This happened in the past, more than today, though. As for the record labels, you couldn’t be more right! I like to say that my working relation with the various managers have lately improved, and so I continue to have some good relationships with Out Of Line, Trisol, Italian Records and Virgin. As for Dependent, I cannot tell you what will happen, yet, but … we’re here to find it out, right?!
9. You have always been exploring the meanings of reality. Hologram Moon plays with the idea of the alternative reality in which the Moon represents nothing more but an artificial vision. It’s an abstract idea, difficult to comprehend. Has your intention been to push people towards thinking in more abstract way as opposed to being here and now or has it just been the reflection of your own thoughts and feelings about the world and other possible dimensions?
Elena Alice Fossi: I suppose there are several dimensions and universes. I actually don’t know… anything, but I’m searching, pondering, trying to reflect on that. I do not know whether the Moon is a hologram projected by a smaller satellite placed behind it, an artificial structure or a real planet: let’s say I am interested in exploring various avenues… We did choose to mention the theory of the hologram Moon because such an hypothesis has been of inspiration in the beginning, when we started working on this new album, and I must say the subject is intriguing, almost appealing, if nothing else… as a metaphor regarding manipulation. Manipulation of mind, cultural control and scientific discoveries alteration. Official history itself not seldom sounds a little too strange to a perceptual reader’s ear…
10. How much are you personally drawn to sci-fi, extra–terrestrial and unearthly themes in art in general?
Elena Alice Fossi: Am not that much into “classic sci-fi”, but in the “extra-terrestrial reality” or extra-dimensional reality. We have come to know very interesting facts, which have touched us deeply, throughout time. But I won’t dwell much on the subject, as I prefer the listeners to focus on our music. The Moon-related subject was just a source of inspiration suitable for giving birth to songs that, more than anything, are connected to our lives … The strange fact is that even Oasis’ Noel Gallagher is showing some clear interest in a possible lunar strangeness, given that his new album is titled “Who built the Moon?” …
11. How did the collaboration with Eskil for “Sky Collapse” come about? Was it something you discussed for a long time or did it just happen spontaneously?
Elena Alice Fossi: Collaborating with Eskil does not belong to any casual facts list. A sequence of flashing LEDs gave shape to such an intense experience! We met in Germany on the occasion of a charity festival in September 2014, as I wanted to perform there with a selected line-up. I liked the idea of having a male vocalist as a guest on stage, so Angelo suggested the name of Eskil. Just a perfect idea, as both Kirlian and Covenant show real involvement in cold romantic/dramatic alien atmospheres. Certain love for pop music goes to take all of the other inputs in its merciful electronic arms…
12. You produce your own music, if I’m not mistaken. You collaborated with John Fryer on Hologram Moon for mixing. This was not your first encounter with John, right?
Angelo Bergamini: Yes, we produce our music by ourselves, and for others, too, when we have time. Elena is the main producer and her studies turn out to be often helpful: I’m more into basic arrangements and songs embryo. As for John, I met him for the first time in London at the legendary Blackwing studios, January 1988, as I was looking for a co-production to the tracks “Austria” and “Tor Zwei” to be put in the album “Eclipse (Das Schwarze Denkmal)”. John was a very popular producer and mixing engineer at the times as well, and I remember one of his singles (M/A/R/R/S’ “Pump up the Volume”) was storming the charts, while his work on the 3rd This Mortal Coil album was already at an advanced stage, when I landed in a sunny London, those days. I got a brilliant result! Then, I met John along with Elena in Trondheim/Norway on the occasion of a SPECTRA*paris show, around 2010 approx. and so the idea of further collaborations started to take shape.
Angelo Bergamini: OK, no blush and thank you for the compliment! We’re proud to have eventually reached the point where we’ve been able to create our own music style, a style that isn’t so simple to imitate – or so we’re told, at least – whether we’re working on electronic pop music plots, or experimental pages. We have built ourselves, our identity, through many efforts and desperate love.
14. After listening to Hologram Moon I can easily imagine some songs being performed at Eurovision. KC is so much more than an electronic dark wave project; it has a commercial potential and quality. What’s the furthest mainstream engagement you were involved in?
Elena Alice Fossi: I didn’t take part in so many mainstream-like projects, as I always preferred the underground, when child. Let’s say SPECTRA*paris is effectively electropop orientated and gained some fine success at the time of the 1st album, in particular.
Angelo Bergamini: I was a member of the platinum + gold record winning Hipnosis project, during the 80’s, but wanna tell you that Elena rejected so many offers coming from the mainstream pop areas, in order to join KC! And really, many were so interesting, must say…
Elena Alice Fossi: On the other hand, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, as the saying goes!
Elena Alice Fossi: I honestly must admit I do not feel that worried by crazy labelling, as today I am aware of what I am doing in the music field, therefore I am feeling more relaxed on such topic, in contrast to years back, when I showed more fragility. On the opposite, sometimes it’s curious to be informed on how press is labelling our music. The craziest observation came out many years ago, when I wasn’t involved in KC, yet… Angelo told me that the band was compared to Santana! I guess that was the most incredibly astronomical gag ever written…!!! Sheer fun!!! Perhaps the reviewer was sent by mistake a Blood Sweat and Fire album or whatsoever, I do not know … I do not know how to explain such a thing, but Angelo managed to amaze me once again with his experiences in the musical world !!!
16. What’s the next step after releasing the new album? Can we expect live dates in the near future to support its release?
Elena Alice Fossi: We are just selecting several offers. I do not know whether we will get involved in a one-shot tour or, on the contrary, we will opt for separated dates, but I know our enthusiasm is huge, as if it were a debut. It is kind of oddity, I am aware of it, but this is the place where time stops and turns into colours…